This Celtic name stems from the Gaelic, ‘son of Grace’. The Macraes were most numerous around Kintail in Wester Ross, where they appear to have become supporters of the Mackenzies. Duncan Macrae was constable of Eilean Donan Castle and acquired for himself the lands of Inverinate. The Macraes were so fierce in adherence to their Mackenzie overlord that they became known as ‘Mackenzie’s shirt of mail’. In 1539 the Macdonalds, under Donald Grumach, fourth of Sleat, besieged Eilean Donan Castle as part of their attempt to revive the shattered Lordship of the Isles. Macrae is credited with slaying the Macdonald chief with an arrow, bringing the siege to an end. The fortunes of the Mackenzies prospered and they obtained for themselves the title, ‘Earl of Seaforth’. The Macraes basked in reflected glory and were invested with the hereditary constableship of Eilean Donan Castle and also created chamberlains of Kintail. There were numerous cadet houses, including the Macraes of Conchra, Clunes and Feoirlinn. The family was not only renowned for its military prowess. Duncan Macrae, born around 1640 was educated at Edinburgh University and composed Gaelic poetry. Lieutenant Colonel John Macrae, born in 1861, served in the Black Watch, and was both deputy keeper of the Palace of Holyroodhouse and a member of the Royal Company of Archers (bodyguard of the monarch in Scotland). Colonel Sir Colin Macrae of Feoirlinn, who was knighted in 1935, served with distinction throughout the Boer War and was not only a member of the Royal Company of Archers, but also a lieutenant in the bodyguard of the English monarch, the Yeomen of the Guard.

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